Nice place. Where's all the stuff?

Tinyfroglet, Creative Commons

I had taken a break from writing about Frugal Green Living on Planet Green, but have promised our editor that I will be back and on schedule. This series started with me cutting up my credit cards and becoming bound and determined to get my financial life under control. In the process of learning about living with less, I have studied writers from Diderot to Thorstein Veblen to Thoreau to Bruce Sterling and even George Carlin.

George Carlin was right about stuff; we have too much of it, and our lives seem to be devoted to getting more stuff. But I have always aspired to a minimalist style, with as little stuff as possible around. This has usually meant that I needed storage for stuff; having a relatively big house (the kids are mostly moved out) that meant sticking stuff in bedrooms and closets and basements so that the main rooms could look like they don't have stuff in them. To be honest, I have been living a lie, a minimalist facade with basements and cupboards about to burst. I am living like I might be Mrs. Farnsworth; she had that lovely Miesian house, but you just knew that somewhere else there was a houseful (a warehouseful) of stuff.

If you do it right, you don't have to hire a Mies and buy midcentury modern furniture; you don't need a warehouse; You just have to get rid of stuff. Leo Babauta, in his fabulously minimalist website mnmlist, writes:

The photos of minimalist houses, desks, and Macs that you see on many minimalist sites are obviously for the affluent — they have expensive furniture, computers, gadgets, homes that aren't affordable for many people. But that's not a requirement of minimalism.

The requirement for minimalism is to have a minimal amount of stuff, period. Leo continues:

Eliminating unnecessary possessions also means you'll need a smaller home, which will save on rent and heating/cooling. Buying fewer things means less debt. Spending time with loved ones or doing things you love means you spend less. All of these things are good whether you're wealthy or not.

He concludes that minimalism is not just for the affluent anymore. He's right.